United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
STEPHEN L. CROCKER Magistrate Judge.
lawsuit, pro se plaintiff Walter Smith is pursuing
claims related to the adequacy of Ramadan meal bags, the
availability of proper foods for the Eid-ul-Fitr feast, the
adequacy of the halal diet, and the availability of Islamic
services and study groups. On February 28, 2017, I granted in
part defendants' motion to dismiss Smith's claims on
exhaustion grounds. (Dkt. 50.) In particular, I granted the
motion as to Smith's claim related to the availability of
Islamic services and study groups and 2008 Eid-ul-Fitr
claims, but denied the motion as to the Ramadan meal bag and
2009 Eid-ul Fitr claims. Since then, defendants filed a
motion for reconsideration of the decision with respect to
the 2009 Eid-ul-Fitr claim (dkt. 51), and Smith filed a
motion for reconsideration with respect to the Islamic
services and study group claim (dkt. 52). Additionally, Smith
filed a motion for appointment of an expert or, in the
alternative, an extension of the expert disclosure deadline.
(Dkt. 38.) For the reasons stated below, I am denying each of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 Standard
may file a motion for “reconsideration” under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) to alter or amend a
judgment. “Rule 59(e) allows a party to direct the
district court's attention to newly discovered material
evidence or a manifest error of law or fact, and enables the
court to correct its own errors and thus avoid unnecessary
appellate procedures. . . . The rule does not provide a
vehicle for a party to undo its own procedural failures, and
it certainly does not allow a party to introduce new evidence
or advance arguments that could and should have been
presented to the district court prior to the judgment.”
Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir.
1996) (citations omitted). Therefore, “[t]o prevail on
a Rule 59(e) motion to amend judgment, a party must clearly
establish (1) that the court committed a manifest error of
law or fact, or (2) that newly discovered evidence precluded
entry of judgment.” Blue v. Hartford Life &
Accident Insurance Co., 698 F.3d 587, 598 (7th Cir.
2012) (internal quotation and citation omitted). Both pending
motions for reconsideration rely on the first option, but
“[a] manifest error is not demonstrated by the
disappointment of the losing party. It is the wholesale
disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize
controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metropolitan Life
Insurance Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000)
(internal quotation and citation omitted).
Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. 51)
argue that I erred in concluding that the authority they
relied on in their motion was not controlling. I disagree.
Defendants sought dismissal of Smith's 2009 Eid-ul-Fitr
claim because he failed to submit a DOC-2075 form, instead
going directly through the ICRS process by filing a complaint
and appeal when he was not satisfied with the response he
received from the religious program director and Chaplain.
(See WCI-2009-23171, dkt. 46-9, at 1.)
support, defendants' relied on a decision from this
district, Schlemm v. Frank, No. 11-cv-272-wmc, 2014
WL 2591879, at *7-9 (W.D. Wis. June 10, 2014), aff'd
in part, rev'd in part, 784 F.3d 362 (7th Cir.
2015). In Schlemm, the court dismissed certain
claims on exhaustion grounds, reasoning that Schlemm failed
to submit a DOC-2075 with respect to those claims and thus
did not permit the RPAC to review his requests. Id.
at *9. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed
without adding to the district court's analysis.
Schlemm v. Wall, 784 F.3d 362, 363 (7th Cir. 2015).
denying defendants' request for dismissal of the 2009
Eid-ul Fitr claim, I concluded that the Schlemm
decision was not controlling because the record in that case
is unclear. When the court initially addressed the exhaustion
issue, it denied defendants' motion for summary judgment
because, although the defendants had established that Schlemm
had not submitted a DOC-2075 form for certain claims, it
appeared that he had attempted to submit grievances through
the ICRS on those claims. 2013 WL 5442293, at *2-3 (W.D. Wis.
Sept. 30, 2013). As, I explained previously:
The court nonetheless took up the exhaustion issue again,
concluding that Schlemm did not properly exhaust those
claims. 2014 WL 2591879, at *8-9. In reversing itself, the
court emphasized that the “RPAC is not directly
involved in responding to ICRS grievances, ” and stated
that there was “no DOC-2075, ICRS grievance or other
administrative response to Schlemm's request” so
the claims “were not processed in compliance with
procedures that were developed for the express purpose of
determining how best to accommodate” his claims.
Id. at *8. The court's mention of the absence of
not just DOC-2075, but also an ICRS grievance or any
“other administrative response, ” suggests that
it was the complete absence of any evidence
establishing that the prison responded to Schlemm's
claims that convinced the court that the claims were not
properly exhausted. Yet that conclusion belies
defendants' concession that Schlemm had, in fact,
submitted complaints through the ICRS.
(Id. at 7-8.)
I turned to what I believe is the proper analysis in this
[M]y analysis must align with the requirements set forth in
Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 721 (7th Cir. 2011).
In that case, the defendants sought dismissal on exhaustion
grounds because an inmate failed to name the defendants or
describe them in a grievance. The court
disagreed with the defendants, holding that because the
inmate followed the applicable three-step grievance process
and prison officials never indicated that it was procedurally
deficient, he properly exhausted. Id. at 722. The
court reasoned that “where prison officials address an
inmate's grievance on the merits without rejecting it on
procedural grounds, the grievance has served its function of
alerting the state and inviting corrective action, and
defendants cannot rely on the failure to exhaust
context, I concluded that because Smith's grievance
included a substantive response from religious personnel, the
prison received the opportunity ...